Letter writing last week

Organizer stands in front of projector

Last Wednesday night (Sept. 14), the back room of Le Cagibi became a refuge for quiet concentration. The usual loud music blasting from the speakers gradually disappeared and was replaced with mellower songs with lyrics that in one way or another mentioned letter writing.

A man sat at a table near the “front” of this back room, computer on hand in case anyone needed to look up a postal code. Free for the taking: lined paper and envelopes. Organizers sold fancier stationery in all sorts of motifs, along with stamps.

Heart to Hand Letter-Writing Night is the brainchild of two friends who love writing letters and wanted to share that passion with like-minded souls.

Throughout the evening, organizers read aloud letters from famous authors from the past and from participants willing to share. One brave woman read aloud a letter she’d written to a boyfriend years ago at the age of 20. She’d never sent the letter and is thanking the universe she didn’t. In speaking the words of her younger self, she showed compassion and love for herself  for being sometimes naive and scatter-brained at age 20.

It was a familiar feeling for me. I remember how lost and all over the place I felt at 20.

To help us concentrate, staff cleared tables of dishes. As a result, most tables were uncharacteristically free of clutter, though a few of us had tea and dessert going as we wrote our letters by candlelight. Two of my friends struggled to get words on paper. One was writing to relatives and occasionally wondered what to say to people she didn’t know very well. My other friend wanted to tell a good friend back home just how much she valued her.

I didn’t have trouble deciding who to write to, just what to say. I have a good friend who spoils me with well crafted, handmade cards and handwritten notes. He puts care and time in setting words to paper. Until I sat down to write, I didn’t realize how much effort this friend has put into our friendship so I expressed that. He loved the letter so much he’s sending me another.

There is something sensual and emotional about sitting down and writing a message directed to one person. My handwriting is chicken scratch and even worse now than it was when I was a child and more regularly corresponded with pen pals and relatives. But writing thoughts down and sending them to a particular person felt terrific. Feeling a sense of community with others who were also penning letters was comforting and inspiring.

There were a few letters I wrote but didn’t send. I penned two letters to this guy I’ve been sort of dating to express my anger at his emotional neglect and the mixed feelings I have of attraction and sadness and loneliness and feeling perpetually confused and emotionally unfed in this dating situation. It was great to write out my feelings, rip up the paper and put it all in a shredder organizers had thoughtfully provided for such a situation. I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one using that shredder.

I didn’t write a letter to the guy I crushed on all summer even though there’s much I could write about how I admire the loyalty he shows his friends and the devotion he shows his daughters, his good looks, intelligence, kindness and nurturing personality. Alas, he’s not available, had his heart smashed and bruised and broken and says he does not want a relationship with anyone right now.

3 thoughts on “Letter writing last week

  1. I had no idea you were blogging too! This is a great write-up. I still haven’t reread my letters, let alone sent them…

    1. I didn’t realize you were on WordPress! (oops, now I realize you’re not). I figured you had a blog but I wasn’t sure. I just checked it out, it’s fantastic. This is great – you can mentor me!

      1. Yeah, I don’t know anything about WP, but I have been blogging for three years now, so feel free to ask me any questions. No guarantee I’ll be able to help, but I’ll try!

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